Russian Online Market – Who, How, and What?

Understanding the online market in each country is crucial for companies looking to go global. If you are planning to address the Russian market, here are a few things you want to keep in mind about your future audience.

Who Are the Russian Internet Users?

As the largest in Europe, and the 6th largest in the world, the Russian online market is more appealing to marketers than ever before. Russia has approximately 74.4 million monthly internet users—representing over 50% of the population—with 75% of users accessing the internet daily. In Russia’s major cities including Moscow and St Petersburg, almost ¾ of residents have internet access and more than 60% of the population over the age of 12 are regular internet users.

Although the growth of internet users in Russia has slowed in recent years, the internet audience is expected to continue steadily rising. What is significant is that more than 85% of new users now come from outside of the country’s major cities. So, although the growth in rural areas has also slowed, the number of new users is significantly higher than in the major cities. However, in Russia’s more remote areas, it is unexpected that the number of internet users will reach the national average anytime soon.

How Do Russian Users Access the Web?

The majority of internet users in Russia still use desktop devices. However, with 30 million smartphone users, the mobile internet market is rapidly growing. The mobile internet audience grew by 35% in 2012 in comparison to the overall internet audience which grew by only 12% during the same period. In Russia’s biggest cities over 25% of the population use a mobile device to access the internet. Smartphones represent a 49% share of the market and the rise in tablet users has led to tablets holding a 16% market share, up 10 percentage points from a year ago. Cell phones make up the other 34%, although their share has reduced by a third from a year ago.

What Are They Accessing?

Russians access the internet for a number of reasons both social and work related. When the internet is accessed, 51% of the time it is for studying or work related activities. Users check their emails 45% of the time, and access music, films and books 39% of the time. The internet is also largely used to socialize. Russia is now number one worldwide for time spent on social media sites.

Due to the high volume of new internet users, the Russian online video market is booming, as individuals frequently use the internet to watch and upload videos. Approximately 24 million Russians watch videos online on a monthly basis which is a third of the total internet users. The estimated value of the online video market is set to reach $88.7 million by the end of 2014 and this figure is set to rise to $290.5 million by the end of 2018.

Online shopping is expected to keep growing fast in Russia, with a stable annual growth of 15%-20%. In 2013 e-commerce in Russia was reported to be worth an astounding $17.5 billion. Although the majority of Russians use the internet to research products, the number of online purchases is increasing. In 2013 the average annual amount spent online shopping was $670 and this is estimated to increase to $758 in 2016.

As the Russian online market has expanded to one of the largest in the world, the demographics of users, internet accessibility, and popular online behaviors have changed. It is interesting to analyze the Russian market as it differs from other European and Western countries. Furthermore, it is important for companies looking to enter the Russian online market to understand its differences.